City cycling clinic

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  • To helmet or not to helmet?

    I started using my chrome-look BMX bikers’ helmet the year a hot-headed motorist clipped my back wheel and knocked me into the gutter on Upper Street on my journey north from City Road to St John’s Villas in Archway. She was eventually charged with dangerous driving and I ended up with a cut over my left brow, which bled dramatic drops of crimson all the way to University College London Hospital A&E on Euston Road, and a black eye the colour of a ripe aubergine. A helmet would have saved me from both.However, while bike helmets are good for low-speed falls like mine, the debate about how well they protect your head during a full-on collision has raged since their introduction in the 1970s. Objectors say that not only do they offer minimal protection, but an ill-fitting helmet can actually cause serious neck injuries in a crash. Add to that the University of Bath study which discovered that drivers are actually less careful around helmet-wearing cyclists (believing them to be more experienced road users) than those without, and my chrome dome starts to look less shiny.The London Cycling Campaign refrains from promoting the use of a helmet but does offer useful advice for anyone wanting to buy one. For my part I’ll stick with mine – even if it does provoke people to compare me to Barbarella and Dusty Bin in one fell swoop. Fiona McAuslan

    Route rating

    Intended route 3.09 miles (City Road to St John’s Villas) Actual route 1.9 miles (City Road to UCLH A&E part by ambulance) Treatment received Butterfly stitches to head. Rump steak to eye

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